April 15, 2007 — Today at the 2007 National Association of Broadcasters conference (NAB2007), Microsoft Corp. unveiled Microsoft® Silverlight™, a new cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications (RIAs) for the Web. Early supporters of the new platform include Akamai Technologies Inc., Brightcove Inc., Eyeblaster Inc., Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball and Netflix Inc.
Microsoft Silverlight, previously called Windows® Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E), integrates with existing Web technologies and assets to provide higher-quality experiences with lower costs for media delivery. Delivered to end users through a seamless, fast installation, Silverlight offers consistent experiences to both Macintosh and Windows users on a variety of browsers including Internet Explorer®, Firefox and Safari.
Microsoft’s broader development platform and additional details about Silverlight will be shared in the keynote presentation at Microsoft’s upcoming Mix07 conference, April 30 in Las Vegas. Microsoft will also release the beta for Silverlight during the Mix07 conference. More information about the Mix07 event can be found at http://www.mix07.com.
As is well known, Silverlight offers a subset of the the Windows Presentation Foundation technologies introduced with Vista along with Windows Media Video (WMV), Microsoft’s implementation of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) VC-1 video standard, combined in a runtime that will allow cross platform rich media Web applications. (See Tim Sneath’s top ten list of reasons why you might want to use Silverlight for the technical sales pitch.)
As I have observed previously, at this point Silverlight is just another browser plug-in, but Microsoft has high hopes as indicated by the extra effort they made in branding it. Not surprisingly, Adobe (the owner of Flash) cast doubts on Microsoft’s cross platform commitment.
Catching up on an item from last week – Expression Design Beta 1 and Blend Beta 2 Available:
Yey – I know several of our ISVs have been waiting patiently for these downloads. I just need to find a day to try them both out! You can beat me to it by downloading them from http://microsoft.com/expression.
eWEEK’s Darryl K. Taft interviews Forest Key, director of product management for Microsoft’s design tools, and InfoWorld’s Paul Krill interviews Eric Zocher, general manager of the Microsoft Expression product line, to provide the big picture, but the nut is that the Expression family is Microsoft’s new foray into tools for designers as opposed to all the existing tools for developers. The Expression products utilize Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF, codenamed Avalon), Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E, aka “Flash Killer” which also has a new CTP) and XAML to create the design elements for rich content Web and desktop applications.
Of course, a persistent side issue of the invidious distinction between designer and developer tools is the fact that the Expression tools are not being made available to developers through the Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN). As long as Microsoft is going to erect barriers between the two, they might as well also create a “Microsoft Designers Network” although they better use a little of that artistic creativity to avoid conflicting acronyms.
A coalition of rivals charged on Friday that Microsoft Corp.’s new Vista operating system coming out next week will perpetuate practices found illegal in the European Union nearly three years ago.
The group, which includes IBM, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Adobe, Oracle and Red Hat, said its complaints made last year are yet to be addressed just days before Vista is due for release.
“Microsoft has clearly chosen to ignore the fundamental principles of the Commission’s March 2004 decision,” said Simon Awde, chairman of the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS).
Microsoft said it had no comment. The Commission was not ready to act.
“We are in the process of examining this complaint,” a Commission spokesman said. ECIS disclosed on Friday that the latest additions to its complaint were made only last month, after it studied Vista.
Other complainants in the group include Corel, RealNetworks , Linspire and Opera.
The ECIS press release is here and technologies specifically called out are XAML and Open XML. The European Commission always seems to move at a snail’s place, but they do move eventually so their reaction to Vista continues to be something to watch.
When last we heard, Microsoft had paused development on Expression Graphic Designer (Acrylic) and Expression Web Designer (Quartz) was AWOL. Now, Martin LaMonica reports at CNET that Microsoft says that these two plus their sibling Expression Interactive Designer (”Sparkle”) will be available 60-90 days after Vista. That’s probably the soonest since they depend on the Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon) display technologies which will finally be solidified with Vista. Microsoft also promises a CTP of Quartz in June.
Speaking of WPF, at last week’s Mix06 conference Microsoft unveiled Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E) which is popularly billed as a “Flash Killer.” Elizabeth Montalbano at InfoWorld:
WPF/E lets graphics created for Windows Vista applications run on other OSes as well as on the Web, said Forest Key, a director of developer tools product management for Microsoft.
Key described WPF/E as a run time for reusing rich graphic elements built specifically for a Windows Vista application. At the core of the technology is XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language), Microsoft’s language for creating graphical presentation elements in Windows Presentation Foundation, the next-generation GUI framework for Windows Vista.
WPF/E can be used in two different ways. Developers can use it to embed XAML code for graphics in an application so it can run on another platform, for example, the Macintosh, Key said. Then there are WPF/E plug-ins for browsers, which can be downloaded when a WPF/E-enabled applications pops up on the Web. The plug-ins will allow those XAML-based graphics to be rendered in various browsers, he said.
Microsoft will release the first Community Technology Preview (CTP) of WPF/E in the third quarter. In the first half of next year, it will release WPF/E plug-ins that will allow graphics built for Windows to run on browsers, including Apple Computer’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer.
Microsoft bills WPF/E as a more flexible alternative to Adobe Systems’ Macromedia Flash, which also is both a developer technology for building multimedia content and a plug-in that can be downloaded to allow rich graphics to run on the Web.
Since Flash has a huge head start, I doubt WPF/E “kills” it any time soon. It’s just another plug-in to add to your browser.